A Red-Tailed Voodoo

A Fighter Pilot’s Son

(Knodishall is a little village of a couple hundred people
on the east coast of Britain just in from the North Sea.
I lived there as a child for two years.)


“Come, children. Your father’s going to visit us today.”

Huh? You say. She takes us three boys by our hands

into the yard, points to the sky and says “Stare hard.”


And we do. At nothing. “Keep looking,” she implores.

Then a dot, a tiny pinprick of a dot on the horizon

gets larger and larger with the rumbling roar of a

mighty war bird, a military airplane fast and low.


Mother shouts: “Here comes Father in his jet!”

Then he’s overhead dark and swift, the shadow

of death. You can bet it’s the coolest thing

we’ve ever seen – an F-101 Voodoo with

a huge red tail sprinkled with white stars.


A most awesome flying machine streaking

in now at hundreds of miles an hour and I

am like six years old. Holy cow and wowzers!


The gods of thunder and the gods of war all

bow down to the mighty roar. Thor himself

stops hammer in mid-blow to nod approvingly

at the majesty of two Pratt and Whitneys

turning raw jet fuel into blazing afterburners.


The Earth shakes. Birds stop flying. Dogs howl,

think they’re dying. Dad pulls ‘er up, nose to the sky,

twenty-foot flames shooting out the back end.


Crawling things stop crawling. Rabbits stop dead

in their tracks. Dad? He’s spinning round and round

on his back in the cockpit, grinning I suppose, pointed

straight up until he disappears in the thin blue sky.


Mother says: ”Well, children. Did you wave to Father?”

Us? First we had to pick our jaws up off the ground, shut our

mouths from drawing flies and get our eyes back in our heads.


Leave a comment